The novel’s title, along with its bird-motif cover, calls to mind Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom—and like that novel, Freebird is driven by inner monologues and centers on the health of both the environment and the modern family. But Raymond—a writer of novels (The Half-Life), films (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) and TV series (HBO’s Mildred Pierce)—has a quality Franzen doesn’t: concision. He gets the job done with about half the number of pages.
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The Singers, an all-American family in the California style, are about to lose everything. Anne is a bureaucrat in the Los Angeles Office of Sustainability whose ideals are compromised by a proposal from a venture capitalist seeking to privatize the city's wastewater. Her brother, Ben, a former Navy SEAL, returns from Afghanistan disillusioned and struggling with PTSD, and starts down a path toward a radical act of violence. And Anne's teenage son, Aaron, can't decide if he should go to college or pitch it all and hit the road. They all live inside the long shadow of the Singer patriarch Grandpa Sam, whose untold experience of the Holocaust shapes his family's moral character to the core. Jon Raymond, screenwriter of the acclaimed films Meek's Cutoff and Night Moves, combines these narrative threads into a hard-driving story of one family's moral crisis. In Freebird, Raymond delivers a brilliant, searching novel about death and politics in America today, revealing how the fates of our families are irrevocably tied to the currents of history.